May 1, 2006

White Tops Red in Spring Game

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Freshman Nathan Ford and junior Anthony Jackson showed just how much they didn’t like the idea of washing cars, as the offense ousted the defense in the annual Red and White Spring Game, played Saturday afternoon at Schoellkopf Field. The Red offense accumulated 355 yards through the air and received a 43-yard field goal with 55 seconds remaining in the game from sophomore kicker Jay Harding to defeat the defense, 30-29.

With the loss, the defense was forced to wash cars yesterday at Shortstop Deli from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The open donation event was for charity, helping the Family and Children’s Service of Ithaca.

Apparent from the start of the game for the Red was the new revamped passing attack coordinated by Ford and classmate Shane Connolly. Both quarterbacks will compete for a starting job until mid-September, when the Red opens its season against Bucknell. Ford went 12-of-20 for 211 yards through the air while Connolly went 7-for-11 with 97 yards.

“We made a real effort this spring to improve our offensive passing game,” said head coach Jim Knowles ’87. “Last year we were the No. 1 defense in the league and the No. 1 rushing offense, but we really need to get better at passing. I think you saw that today.”

With the departure of senior wide receiver Brian Romney, a two-time All-Ivy performer, Jackson showed that he was up to the task of being the go-to target for the Red next season. The Waterford, Mich., native caught eight passes for a total of 141 yards in the scrimmage, all coming from the arm of Ford. The two-sport athlete Ford – who wore a black jersey during the scrimmage because he was scheduled to play a baseball doubleheader against Princeton yesterday – said that he was pleased by the pairing and also gave kudos to his offensive line, which played well despite seeing the departure of senior Kevin Boothe.

“I like that combination a lot,” said Ford of playing with Jackson. “The line played really well and the receivers got open. I had a lot of time to throw.”

The offensive line was stellar with pass-blocking and was also behind the scoring of two rushing touchdowns, each of which were goal-line touchdowns scored by junior Anthony Macaluso.

“The offensive line isn’t going to change very much,” said Knowles. “Kevin lifted everyone up to his level, and since he’s the only guy who we’ve lost on the front line, all those other guys who started next to him are better because of him. They’re all trying to be the next Kevin Boothe and that’s what I’m looking forward to. I think our offensive line is going to be one of our strengths.”

While much of the talk was about the offense which spurted late, the Ivy League’s top-rated defense from last year had its moments early. The defense stopped the Red offense cold for much of the first half until freshman Jesse Baker got the White on the board, grabbing a 34-yard touchdown pass. Overall, the Red defense allowed 116 yards on 48 carries, an average of just 2.4 yards per carry. The strength came from the effort of the defensive line led by junior Jonathan Lucas, which despite giving up two rushing touchdowns, stood fast in goal-line situations.

“The defensive line is going to be strong,” Lucas said. “A lot of guys are coming back and we should get some good push up front at the line of scrimmage this year.”

While junior tailback Luke Siwula – a first-team All-Ivy selection in 2005 – and junior defensive linemen Jeff Dicks and Ryan Kiscadden, as well as junior defensive backs Matt Grant and Adam Hollier didn’t play, there was still emotion felt at the end of the scrimmage when Harding hit the decisive field goal to win it for the offensive.

“I kind of had mixed emotions,” Lucas said of the winning field goal. “I was a little disappointed to see the defense lose, but I was glad to see our kicking game get off to a good start. That will be key in the regular season.”

Archived article by Tim Kuhls
Sun Assistant Sports Editor